The Association Management System (AMS) market is in a major state of upheaval. Like similar vertical market applications in other markets, AMSs are transitioning from the on-premise systems of the last 30 years, to the cloud. Like those other markets, the game changer brought about by the cloud has caught many of the old guard flat-footed.
The AMS vendors that ruled the last generation show their maturity in the depth of their association management functions. But, like someone with so many facelifts that can no longer smile, the AMS’s with roots in on-premise technologies, their siloed ‘doesn’t play well with others’ approach betrays their age. Why? Porting on-premise technology to a true, multi-tenant, scalable-on-demand SaaS environment essentially requires a complete rewrite. To do so would cost the vendor millions. Besides, where are their clients going to go?
Enter the disrupters.The new Salesforce-based AMS’s are extremely seductive with their:
- User-customizable fields, forms and reports
- Huge ecosystem, providing hundreds of vendors for you to choose from.
- Extensibility with an app store offering thousands of plug-in apps to extend your AMS’s capability.
- Scale-on-demand architecture
- Built-in fault-tolerance, hot-site disaster recovery, security, anti-virus and anti-malware
- Accessibility from anywhere and any device
But, even with all of that, their lack of depth betrays their youth. But, in the SaaS world they have a head start.
So what should your association do?
- Continue to pour good money into extending/enhancing your current system, knowing its days are numbered?
- Move to a low-cost SaaS platform that is reasonably capable, but has limited customizability?
- Move to a Salesforce-based platform that is young and limited, but shows potential?
- Build your own custom solution on Salesforce or some other SaaS platform?
The answer depends on your unique situation. The first question you have to ask yourself is, does your current system meet your needs now and for the foreseeable future? If so, stop wasting your time reading this, and go celebrate – you’re one of the few. On the other hand, if your present system drives you into apoplectic fits, read on…
Most of you have heard the old adage “Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick any two. If you substitute “Flexible” for “Fast” it’s a perfect fit for AMSs.
- You can get Good and Flexible, but it’s not going to be cheap.
- You can get Flexible and Cheap, but it’s not going to be good.
- And, you can get Good and Cheap, but it’s not going to be flexible.
Even in the midst of all this upheaval, this maxim still holds true. In the next three installments we’re going to look at the pros and cons of the AMS options available at the three intersections of Good, Flexible and Cheap. Stay tuned.